The recently released Canadian Practice Guidelines on the prevention and management of overweight and obesity in children and youth released by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CMAJ 2015), rightly recommended that surgery not be routinely offered to children or youth who are overweight or obese.
Nevertheless, there is increasing evidence that some of these kids, especially those with severe obesity, may well require rather drastic treatments that go well beyond the current clinical practice of doing almost nothing.
Just how ill kids can be before they are generally considered potential candidates for bariatric surgery is evident from a study by Marc Michalsky and colleagues, who just published the baseline characteristics of participants in the Teen Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (Teen-LABS) Study, a prospective cohort study following patients undergoing bariatric surgery at five adolescent weight-loss surgery centers in the United States (JAMA Pediatrics).
While the mean age of participants was 17 with a median body mass index of 50, the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors was remarkable: fasting hyperinsulinemia (74%), elevated hsCRP (75%), dyslipidemia (50%), elevated blood pressure (49%), impaired fasting glucose levels (26%), and diabetes mellitus (14%).
Not reported in this paper are the many non-cardiovascular problems raging from psychiatric issues to sleep apnea and muskuloskeletal problems, that often dramatically affect the life of these kids.
While surgery certainly appears rather drastic, the fact that these kids are undergoing surgery is merely an indicator of the fact that we don’t have effective medical treatments for this patient population, which would likely require a combination of behavioural interventions and polypharmacy to achieve anything close to the current weight-loss success of bariatric surgery.
That this cannot be the ultimate answer to obesity management (whether for kids or adults), is evident from the rising number of kids and adults presenting with ever-higher BMI’s and related comorbidity – not all of these can or will want surgery.
Thus, while current anti-obesity medications cannot compete with the magnitude of weight-loss generally seen with surgery, medications together with behavioural interventions may well play a role in helping prevent progressive weight gain in earlier stages of the disease.
Unfortunately, I am not aware of any studies that have explored the use of medications in kids to stabilize weight in order to avoid surgery. This would, in my opinion, be a very worthwhile use of such medications.
Last week at the 8th Annual Obesity Symposium hosted by the European Surgery Institute in Norderstedt, one of the case presentations included an individual with type 1 diabetes (no insulin production), who had gained weight and subsequently also developed increasing insulin resistance, the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
In my discussion, I referred to this as 1+2 diabetes, or in other words, type 3 diabetes.
Unfortunately, it turns out that the term type 3 diabetes has already been proposed for the type of neuronal insulin resistance found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
As discussed in a paper by Suzanne de la Monte and Jack Wands published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology,
“Referring to Alzheimer’s disease as Type 3 diabetes (T3DM) is justified, because the fundamental molecular and biochemical abnormalities overlap with T1DM and T2DM rather than mimic the effects of either one.”
These findings have considerable implications for our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease as a largely neuroendocrine disorder, which may in part be amenable to treatment with drugs normally used to treat type 1 and/or type 2 diabetes.
In retrospect, I believe, whoever came up with the term type 3 diabetes for Alzheimer’s disease, should perhaps have called it type 4 diabetes, given that the 1+2 diabetes is now increasingly common (and well studied) in patients with type 1 diabetes, who go on to develop type 2 diabetes (which, as discussed at the symposium responds quite well to bariatric or “metabolic” surgery).
For all my Canadian readers (and any international readers planning to attend), here just a quick reminder that the deadline for early bird discount registration for the upcoming 4th Canadian Obesity Summit in Toronto, April 28 – May 2, ends March 3rd.
To anyone who has been at a previous Canadian Summit, attending is certainly a “no-brainer” – for anyone, who hasn’t been, check out these workshops that are only part of the 5-day scientific program – there are also countless plenary sessions and poster presentations – check out the full program here.
To register – click here.
It would hardly come as a surprise to regular readers that I would be delighted to see the Edmonton Obesity Staging System featured quite prominently in the article on obesity management by Dietz and colleagues in the 2015 Lancet series on obesity.
Here is what the article has to say about EOSS:
“The Edmonton obesity staging system (EOSS) has been used to provide additional guidance for therapeutic interventions in individual patients (table 1). EOSS provides a practical method to address the treatment paradigm. In principle, EOSS stages 0 and 1 should be managed in a community and primary care setting. Recent data from the USA suggest that 8% of patients with severe obesity (BMI ≥35 kg/m²) account for 40% of the total costs of obesity, whereas the more prevalent grade 1 obesity accounts for a third of costs. These findings suggest that greater priority should be accorded to EOSS stages 3 and 4, resulting in greater focus on pharmacological and surgical management delivered in specialist centres.”
These recommendations are not surprising, as EOSS was specifically designed to provide a much better representation of how “sick” a patient is rather than just how “big” she is.
This is why EOSS has now found its way not just into the 5As of Obesity Management framework of the Canadian Obesity Network but also into the treatment algorithm of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.
To download a slide presentation on how EOSS works click here.
The title of this post may sound like a “no-brainer”, but the research literature on the long-term health benefits of weight loss from longitudinal intervention studies in people with severe obesity is much thinner than most people would expect.
Thus, a new study from our group, that looks at the relationship between changes in body weight and changes in health status over two years in patients with severe obesity enrolled in the Alberta Population-based Prospective Evaluation of the Quality of Life Outcomes and Economic Impact of Bariatric Surgery (APPLES) study, published in OBESITY, may well be of considerable interest.
As described previously, APPLES is a 500-patient cohort study in which consecutive, consenting adults with BMI levels > 35 kg/m2 were recruited from the Edmonton Adult Bariatric Specialty Clinic. The 500 patients enrolled were between 18 and 60 years old and were either wait-listed (n=150), beginning intensive medical treatment (n=200) or had just been approved for bariatric surgery (n=150). Complete follow-up data at 24 months was available for over 80% of participants.
At study enrollment, the proportion of patients who reported >2 and >3 chronic conditions was 95.4% and 85.8%, respectively. The most common single chronic conditions at baseline were joint pain (72.2%), anxiety or depression (65.4%), hypertension (63.4%), dyslipidemia (60.4%), diabetes mellitus (44.6%), gastrointestinal reflux disease (35.4%), and sleep apnea (33.5%).
After 2 years, just over 50% of participants had maintained a weight loss > 5%, with a mean weight change for the entire cohort of about 13 kg.
Losing > 5% weight was associated with an almost 2-fold increased likelihood of reporting a reduction in multimorbidity at 2-year follow-up, whereby outcomes varied between treatment groups: in the surgery group, the top three chronic conditions that decreased in prevalence over follow-up were sleep apnea (43% at baseline vs. 25% at 2 years,), dyslipidemia (60% vs. 47%), and anxiety or depression (59% vs. 47%); in the medically treated group anxiety or depression (69% vs. 57%) and joint pain (77% vs. 67%); and none in the wait-listed group.
As expected, any reduction in multimorbidity was associated with a clinically important improvement in overall health status.
In summary, this paper not only documents the considerable multimorbidity associated with severe obesity, it also documents the clinically important improvement in health status associated even with a rather modest 5% weight loss over 2 years in these individuals.